Hope amid sadness for residents
Road will dislodge some from homes
Standing outside the Tsuu T’ina home he’s lived in for more than two decades, Hal Eagletail reminisced about his property.
As his son played nearby, the father of seven and grandfather of six spoke of the warrior camps for youth he’s hosted on the land, the ceremonies that have taken place at his home, and the wild berries and vegetables he’s picked in the woods nearby.
Eagletail and his family will be forced to relocate to make way for the southwest ring road.
The deal directly impacts several homes and businesses, including the Tsuu T’ina Gas Stop, Buffalo Run Golf Course and the Sarcee Seven Chiefs Sportsplex.
Despite having to relocate, Eagletail supports the ring road and the brighter future he’s hopeful it will bring to the reserve.
“We are very attached, definitely, but that’s the sacrifice that we were willing to make, our family, for the betterment of our future,” Eagletail said on Friday.
Eagletail is one of the 644 band members who voted on Thursday to support the multimillion-dollar proposal that will finally see a completed ring road.
Not everyone is celebrating the historic decision.
“Nightmares do come true, I guess,” Cory Cardinal said Friday, describing the mood among opposed band members as one of anger, sadness and betrayal.
Land that’s been a part of his family for generations, and his mom’s home, will be bull- dozed because of the project, Cardinal said.
“To me, that was my homeland. If you’re French, you can always go back to France. If you’re German, there’s always Germany ... but there’s nowhere left for me to go back to,” he said.
Chico Noel also expressed disappointment in the vote, stating he believes band members chose money over important historical land, and placed the blame on the city.
“Calgary has been taking from the start of time and now they want this. How much more are they going to take? How much more do they want?” he said.
When Noel told his 13-yearold daughter that the project he’s come to refer to as a ringworm — because he says it’s “infecting” his nation — was approved, she began to cry.
“That highway is going to be right in my front yard,” he said.
At a press conference on Friday, Chief Roy Whitney said the process has been difficult for the nation and he “and all Tsuu T’ina” understand why 280 people voted against the deal.
“Our elders decided last week that no matter the outcome of (Thursday’s) vote, our community had to begin to heal and recover from this difficult debate,” he said.
Whitney said the nation will feast and pray with their elders on Sunday, and begin a process of healing.
A Tsuu T’ina spokesperson, rather than Whitney, answered questions after Friday’s press conference because Whitney said he needed time to be with the community.
In addition to homes and businesses, the project will af- fect burial grounds on Tsuu T’ina land and band spokesperson Peter Manywounds said council will work with citizens to move forward on that issue.
“The challenge that chief and council and the community face now is to work with those families and those people and those traditional, cultural matters and manage them in a way that’s totally sensitive to all those issues that meet the needs of those people but still allow the project to go ahead,” he said.
Cardinal said it’s upsetting the burial grounds will be affected and he hopes they’re moved in an appropriate way.
“They were laid there to rest in peace, they weren’t expect- ing to be bulldozed over or picked up and moved,” he said.
Once burial grounds are moved, houses are bulldozed and the freeway is built, Eagletail is hopeful the road will be an opportunity for the Tsuu T’ina to thrive through commercial development and growth.
“It’s going to give us financial stability,” he said.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s hopeful the project will strengthen the relationship between Calgary and the Tsuu T’ina Nation.
“I’m really hopeful, as Chief Whitney is, that this road will not serve as a wall, but it will actually serve as the ability for us to think of our communities as intertwined more than we have in the past,” he said.
When it is finished, the road will not be called Stoney Trail, according to Transportation Minister Ric McIver.
Eagletail said some band members were bothered by the Stoney Trail name and requested the southwest portion of the freeway that will go through the Tsuu T’ina Nation be named something different. “We’re not Stoney. The Stoney Trail was just the horse trail that the Stoneys used to come into Calgary,” he said.
McIver said the deal had to be good for all parties and the province was OK with Tsuu T’ina asking for input into the road’s new name.
While it’s unclear what the new road will be named, Eagletail said he hopes the name reflects the new understandings and relationships that will result between the city, province, and the nation now that a deal has finally been reached.
“To name the road the friendship road, or something like that. The co-operation road,” he said.
Tsuu T’ina resident Hal Eagletail, with his daughter Cherokee and son Ansen, will be forced to leave his property to make way for the ring road, “but that’s the sacrifice that we were willing to make, our family, for the betterment of our future,” said...
Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver comments on the new ring road agreement with the Tsuu T’ina Nation Friday.